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BudW
18 Jan 08,, 01:00
Was Lee overrated? who do you think were the Best Civil War Generals on each side?

Albany Rifles
18 Jan 08,, 02:27
1. Yes

2. Lee & Grant

Blademaster
18 Jan 08,, 05:21
I'd say that Sherman was a far better general than Grant and Lee. That man definitely knew war.

bolo121
18 Jan 08,, 05:26
Havent read much about the american civil war, but what do you think Lee's greatest flaw was as a general?
I always thought of Grant as America's version of Zukhov, both realised that they did not have a rapier like their opponents, but rather a sledge. They just hammered their enemies to the ground with greater mass and firepower.
(yes i know ruski maskirovska spoils the analogy a bit but indulge me)

Blademaster
18 Jan 08,, 05:35
Lee's flaw was that he didn't recognize the futility of his actions. He was reacting to the symptoms not the cause. He did not address his enemy's overwhelming manpower and industrial power by taking any action that would negate those two advantages of the Union. Instead he got caught in the grind and the attrition took care of him and his troops.

Bigfella
18 Jan 08,, 08:33
My problem with the way people assess Lee is not so much that they overrate him, but that they underrate others by comparison (I think the excat same is true of many WW2 German Generals).

Lee was undoubtedly a brilliant field commander, but can it really be said with certainty that he was superior to Jackson, Sherman or Grant? I think that a case could be put for any of those men & perhaps a few more (Joe Johnson, Thomas).

The one who impresses me most from the perspective of modern warfare is Sherman. His understanding of logistics, of the role of non-combatant populations in modern warfare & his ability to make the enemy engage on HIS terms (to the point where they often could not engage at all) would have been perfectly at home in the C20th.

Having said that, I don't necessarily see him as 'better' than his most impressive contemporaries.

clackers
18 Jan 08,, 12:53
The one who impresses me most from the perspective of modern warfare is Sherman.

Without Lee the South would most likely have lost in 1862, but it's interesting how (with one major exception) he never really coped with the modern age ... like so many other contemporaries searching for their West Point taught Napoleonic style victory of manouevre, the extra range of rifled muskets meant his troops suffered horrendous casualties when attacking.

As you say, perception's a funny thing. Of all army commanders on both sides in the Civil War, Lee's troops suffered the highest percentage of casualties, yet Grant got the reputation of a butcher.

The one thing he did do that recognized a change in how wars would be fought was getting the troops to dig in when defending (he got nicknamed the King of Spades). By 1914, it was what everybody was doing in the face of modern firepower.

And yes, Bigfella, there does seem to be something of the modern commander about Sherman - including the controversy of war crimes!

ofogs
18 Jan 08,, 13:33
I have always thought Lee to have been terribly overrated. A case study for this would be his actions (or lack thereof) at Gettysburg. No use of cavalry assets for recon (and he had cavalry available, just not Stuart until the third day when Custer stopped him). And very vague and few orders issued through the course of the battle. Pickett's Charge was probably inexcusable.

gunnut
18 Jan 08,, 22:38
Lee's flaw was that he didn't recognize the futility of his actions. He was reacting to the symptoms not the cause. He did not address his enemy's overwhelming manpower and industrial power by taking any action that would negate those two advantages of the Union. Instead he got caught in the grind and the attrition took care of him and his troops.

So would you say that Lee's overrated on a strategic level, but a brilliant commander on the tactical level? Much like Rommel. Rommel was a brilliant tactical commander, but he was not trained or maybe just not used to think on a very large strategic level.

astralis
19 Jan 08,, 00:55
it's been said that lee was the last of the great napoleonic generals, and that grant/sherman were the beginning of the great attrition-era generals.

Bluesman
19 Jan 08,, 02:39
1. Yes

2. Lee & Grant

1. I knew you'd answer this post.

2. I knew you'd answer that way.

Blademaster
19 Jan 08,, 07:42
So would you say that Lee's overrated on a strategic level, but a brilliant commander on the tactical level? Much like Rommel. Rommel was a brilliant tactical commander, but he was not trained or maybe just not used to think on a very large strategic level.

Yes, Lee was a brilliant tactical commander on the tactical level. He had a fine grasp of the art of operational manuever but to translate it into strategic strengths, he came up short.

Lee needed to be like Guderian or von Mantetz (sp?) during the attack against France and its Maginot Line or like Alexander against the Persians.

Albany Rifles
19 Jan 08,, 17:41
Lee was an excellent commander but he had some serious flaws.
1. He would fixate on a target. He fixated on Fitz John Porter's corps on Malvern Hill and could not be dissuaded from conducting a head on assault against a full corps of infantry backed up by an incredible array of artillery. Stand on Malvern Hill and you have to ask yourself who in their right mind would attack here. At Gettysburg, he did much the same thing. He had a victory on 1 July but the Union had the decisive terrain at the end of the day. After Day 2 his Army was in shambles…yes he had a fresh division coming up but the Union had him outnumbered. He was deep in enemy territory with a river between him and safety. He had an enormous train to clear out of the area. It made more sense defend while his units withdrew. But that was against his nature. His attacks on July 3 shredded the offensive ability of the ANV for rest of the war. And as OFOGS mentioned he mismanaged his cavalry (had almost a full division with him)
2. If you study Lee’s battle management in 1862 – 1863 you will see that he would mange the movement to the battlefield and allow his subordinate commanders fight it. During the Seven Days He managed the movement but then the subordinate division commanders fought individual battles unsupported in 4 of the 6 battles. The two he managed directly, Gaines Mills and Malvern Hill, he went 1-1. From then on in the battles where he took the offensive, study 2d Manassas and Antietam. Jackson and Longstreet fought those battles pretty much independent of each other. Same at Chancellorsville, with Early in the Longstreet role. At Gettysburg, with Jackson gone, he depended too much on Ewell and Hill. He chose to spend his time more with Longstreet and not with his more inexperienced corps commanders. He himself had seen the northern end of the battlefield as decisive yet he did not place himself there. It was not until the 1864 campaign that he started to take control on the battlefield itself…with some really astounding results when one considers how beat up the ANV was.
3. Lee had a hard time disciplining his subordinates. Read Lee’s Lieutenants…you will see this as a common thread all of the way through.
This may appear to be nitpicks…but these opinions are ones I formed with years of reading, research and seminars.
Grant, like Lee, had some flaws (no, drinking was not one of them). He badly mismanaged his army before Shiloh…but corrected his errors on the battlefield. At Iuka and Corinth he was guilty of poor battlefield management. However, he learned from these errors. He recognized after the Holly Springs raid that he had to find another way to get at Vicksburg and he tenaciously held to that, adjust his plans as needed. He, like Lee, often got more out of subordinates which others could not. He was able to forge an effective team amongst the likes of Baldy Smith, George Thomas and Joseph Hooker. But most importantly he recognized that the battlefield was not divorced form the political. In a civil war, the political side of events is deeply connected to the battlefield and vice versa. And unlike some Union commanders, he fought with what he had…and won. He understood the way to win the war was to apply full combat power at all points. A rebellion only can last as long as the rebels have a standing force in the field (see Washington, George and the Continental Army). Grant knew, destroy the Confederate Army and you win the war. He was the first one to pick up Scott’s Anaconda Plan and apply it.
Sherman….ahh, now there is an interesting situation. Like all men, Sherman had his demons and he sometimes allowed them to get the best of him...They almost knocked him out of the war early on. He was brilliant at Shiloh…once he got over his prejudice of volunteer officers. Considering the terrain, he actually performed fairly well at Chickasaw Bayou. He probably should not have sent in the second charge but he had to try. He did not believe in Grant’s plan at Vicksburg for quite some time…in fact McClernand was the true believer of the group and performed well at Port Gibson. His performance at Tunnel Hill at Chattanooga was, to be charitable, bad. And he was overwhelmed at first in the Atlanta Campaign…he never quite seemed to get Joe Johnston where he needed to get him. And his success at Atlanta was due to the effective generalship of George Thomas and the fortuitous removal of Joe Johnston with and his replacement by the overmatched John B. Hood. But he grew into a highly effective Army Group commander. But while he did great in Georgia and the Carolinas, how much of that was due to the size of his force?
So, Lee was the best the Confederates had and Grant was the best the Federals had.

Albany Rifles
19 Jan 08,, 17:42
1. I knew you'd answer this post.

2. I knew you'd answer that way.

Okay, and........what?

ofogs
19 Jan 08,, 18:23
I think a sound argument could be made that Lee, with able corps commanders, could operate with very loose mission based tactics. Having read some of his battlefield "direction," I think he just barely passes. Once he lost Jackson, however, he desperately needed to apply the "directed telescope" to his new commanders and provide more consistent and definite direction. A trademark of Napoleon was his ability to do just that: missions to his corps commanders and then to apply himself to directing the decisive point (ideally) of the battle- notwithstanding the couple Davout's corps basically won for him. So, even if Lee was a good Napoleonic general, he could have learned much more from him.

bolo121
19 Jan 08,, 18:48
Hi guys could you recommend any books for me to read up on The American Civil war?
Also why do so many guys regard Nathan Bedford Forrest so highly?
All i know about him was that he was a very cruel and racist southern commander.

Bluesman
19 Jan 08,, 19:06
Okay, and........what?

Isn't it fun finding all those flaws in conventional thinking that has come down through the years? I mean, once we all recognize that to accept the old, stodgy judgement of history is to just be another intellectually lazy follower, instead of being out there on the unconventional leading edge of revolutionary new ways of looking at the heretofore 'acceptable' (code for 'establishment-enforced mediocrity') facts (which are really just interpretations, take-'em-or-leave-'em for whatever reality YOU choose), then we're all free to see whatever the people that were too close to the actual 'truth' (a dangerous concept, as it is relative) simply could not perceive.

How much more interesting the observer himself becomes if, instead of following the tour guide through the museum, he sets out on his own to explore another sequence of displays, utterly altering his learning experience, and proving that he, at least, is not going to be led around, that he's just so much more avant-garde and ORIGINAL.

BORING. And it's everywhere. Go to a Civil War roundtable sometime, and these guys are the ones that have to sit on their hands to keep from jumping up and interrupting the lecturer with the 'ACTUALLY, sir...' that begins in the micro-second after the speaker concludes and calls for questions.

Lee was excellent, with imperfections, much like ANY of the Great Captains. And to give in to the lay-historian's common disease of seeking to magnify out of proportion his flaws in some iconoclastic show of anti-me-too-ism is just as boring and tiresome as accepting without criticism something like Freeman's valentine to Lee.

Look at any military history book club or discussion group, and you find guys coming out of the woodwork to tell you that, ACTUALLY, every single you believed about this or that was WRONGWRONGWRONG.

BORING. And usually incorrect.

How 'bout we all do this: accept that the guys that would know the most about it - the men that had to contend with, and usually lost to, General Lee probably had more on the ball than anybody else, re: his abilities as a commander? And their judgement is clear: he was EXCELLENT.

Bluesman
19 Jan 08,, 19:12
Hi guys could you recommend any books for me to read up on The American Civil war?
Also why do so many guys regard Nathan Bedford Forrest so highly?
All i know about him was that he was a very cruel and racist southern commander.

Okay, EVRYbody was a racist back then. As far as cruel, maybe, maybe NOT. The Fort Pillow Massacre is still under discussion today as to what really happened, and Forrest's role in it.

As to why he's regarded so highly, that's an easy one: he was simply awesome as a cavalry leader. He conducted damaging raids and first-rate reconnaissance operations, he screened the army as well as anyone could have, and brought shock power to the big battles that he led units in, long after that aspect of mounted warfare was considered gone for good.

He was fearless, ferocious, and a canny leader of men. Perhaps the best cavalry general on either side during the war (with acknowledgements to Sheridan and Stuart and Ashby and Custer...many others).

Bluesman
19 Jan 08,, 19:21
Was Lee overrated? who do you think were the Best Civil War Generals on each side?

By WHO? Freeman probably over-rated him, because his criticism was mild and VERY sympathetic.

But was he over-rated by his opponents? Nah. Frequently, he was UNDER-rated, and look what happened almost every single time they did that. DEFEAT, usually of a nature that got 'em fired.

Lee was the best on the Southern side, and that's not even debatable by anybody that knows a farthing's-worth about his relative worth to his cause, and on the Union, purty much has to be Grant. Neither side could've carried on without these indispensible men, and eventually, even Lee had to quit, as good as he was, because Grant was as good as HE was.

There are so many good picks, though. But Lee could not have been replaced at any point in the war, once he took over from Johnston, and if he'd somehow gotten taken out of the picture, the Confederacy's main army and only real hope of winning would've gone down MUCH earlier.

I believe Grant was the personification of determination, and that's all the North really lacked to finally end the war, once Grant came to the Eastern theater. If he'd been replaced by anybody else, the war would almost certainly not entered into the final decisive phase that ground down the Confederacy and ended their ability to resist.

Both men were indispensible, and exactly what their side needed most. Unfortunately for the Confederacy, they needed MORE than just Lee; he came close, but he couldn't close the deal.

Bluesman
19 Jan 08,, 19:30
I'd say that Sherman was a far better general than Grant and Lee. That man definitely knew war.

He was excellent, and that's proven even if the 'better than' part wasn't.

His formation at Bull Run out-performed every other unit of comparable size. He was not nearly so shattered on the first day of Shiloh. He clearly saw that to subdue the South, an all-out effort had to be made, and that the nature of the conflict would not be a few field battles with a glorious, quick end, but that the nation would have to come to terms with a long, bloody, costly and destructive future.

Was he 'better' than Lee and Grant? I don't think so, but you could sure see that he understood his job better than anybody else. His formations were drilled and disciplined, they were made from the same raw material as all others, but were much better soldiers, and his officers were solid, as well. He deserves credit for that, as well as seeing and having the courage to do what it took to end the war.

They thought he was a mad-man at the time, but Grant saw his qualities, and we owe both of 'em for that.

Bluesman
19 Jan 08,, 19:47
My problem with the way people assess Lee is not so much that they overrate him, but that they underrate others by comparison (I think the excat same is true of many WW2 German Generals).
Well, it IS relative. Against what else CAN they be compared but their opponents?


Lee was undoubtedly a brilliant field commander, but can it really be said with certainty that he was superior to Jackson, Sherman or Grant?
Sure. The South would've collapsed under ANY of those guys. Jackson could never have been in over-all command of the Confederacy's main army, and the army would've been unhappy under him. His corps and independent mission in the Valley, and as a subordinate while under direct supervision of Lee when they combined was the PERFECT place for him, and it's why his record is so impressive. I think it's easy to follow the 'what if' out to a conclusion that he simply wasn't the guy for the job. Lee's personality and qualities were what held the ANV together; Jackson simply could not have done the same with his characteristics.

Sherman was an excellent leader, but I don't think he could've held the ANV together in the same circumstances that Lee was in. Ditto Grant. They were perfectly suited to their instruments, but it took Robert E. Lee to do what he did with what he had. If Grant and Lee had swapped missions and resources - Lee as General-in-Chief of all Federal forces, Grant as C-in-C of the ANV - can there be ANY doubt that the war would've been over MUCH sooner? I don't think so.


I think that a case could be put for any of those men & perhaps a few more (Joe Johnson, Thomas).
Those two don't make my list, although they each had fine qualities. I put 'em in the second tier.


The one who impresses me most from the perspective of modern warfare is Sherman. His understanding of logistics, of the role of non-combatant populations in modern warfare & his ability to make the enemy engage on HIS terms (to the point where they often could not engage at all) would have been perfectly at home in the C20th.
First-rate, no doubt. But we'll never know how he would've fared against Lee. Personally, I rate Lee higher mano-y-mano on the battlefield. But could Uncle Billy have maneuvered better, seen strategic opportunities better, done better at hammering down the Confederacy, while limiting his opponents' actions? Probably, for all the reasons you listed, and we have historical examples of him doing exactly that against second-tier enemies.


Having said that, I don't necessarily see him as 'better' than his most impressive contemporaries.
Ditto. That's likely going to be the first and last thing we'll ever agree on.

Bluesman
19 Jan 08,, 19:53
I have always thought Lee to have been terribly overrated. A case study for this would be his actions (or lack thereof) at Gettysburg. No use of cavalry assets for recon (and he had cavalry available, just not Stuart until the third day when Custer stopped him). And very vague and few orders issued through the course of the battle. Pickett's Charge was probably inexcusable.

He was terribly over-rated based on ONE BATTLE? Mate, it was his worst day EVAH, no doubt, and can be said to have been as decisive an action as ever he fought, that is true. But DUDE, come ON. The parts that you point out were all true, and STILL came dam' close to WINNING it, and if that's what an over-rated general looks like to YOU, your standard is a bit too close to perfection, I'd say.

Bluesman
19 Jan 08,, 19:54
it's been said that lee was the last of the great napoleonic generals, and that grant/sherman were the beginning of the great attrition-era generals.

I'd agree.

Bluesman
19 Jan 08,, 19:56
I think a sound argument could be made that Lee, with able corps commanders, could operate with very loose mission based tactics. Having read some of his battlefield "direction," I think he just barely passes. Once he lost Jackson, however, he desperately needed to apply the "directed telescope" to his new commanders and provide more consistent and definite direction. A trademark of Napoleon was his ability to do just that: missions to his corps commanders and then to apply himself to directing the decisive point (ideally) of the battle- notwithstanding the couple Davout's corps basically won for him. So, even if Lee was a good Napoleonic general, he could have learned much more from him.

Easy to say from where we sit. Who knew that in July 1863, though?

Bluesman
19 Jan 08,, 20:09
Lee was an excellent commander but he had some serious flaws.
1. He would fixate on a target. He fixated on Fitz John Porter's corps on Malvern Hill and could not be dissuaded from conducting a head on assault against a full corps of infantry backed up by an incredible array of artillery. Stand on Malvern Hill and you have to ask yourself who in their right mind would attack here. At Gettysburg, he did much the same thing. He had a victory on 1 July but the Union had the decisive terrain at the end of the day. After Day 2 his Army was in shambles…yes he had a fresh division coming up but the Union had him outnumbered. He was deep in enemy territory with a river between him and safety. He had an enormous train to clear out of the area. It made more sense defend while his units withdrew. But that was against his nature. His attacks on July 3 shredded the offensive ability of the ANV for rest of the war. And as OFOGS mentioned he mismanaged his cavalry (had almost a full division with him)
2. If you study Lee’s battle management in 1862 – 1863 you will see that he would mange the movement to the battlefield and allow his subordinate commanders fight it. During the Seven Days He managed the movement but then the subordinate division commanders fought individual battles unsupported in 4 of the 6 battles. The two he managed directly, Gaines Mills and Malvern Hill, he went 1-1. From then on in the battles where he took the offensive, study 2d Manassas and Antietam. Jackson and Longstreet fought those battles pretty much independent of each other. Same at Chancellorsville, with Early in the Longstreet role. At Gettysburg, with Jackson gone, he depended too much on Ewell and Hill. He chose to spend his time more with Longstreet and not with his more inexperienced corps commanders. He himself had seen the northern end of the battlefield as decisive yet he did not place himself there. It was not until the 1864 campaign that he started to take control on the battlefield itself…with some really astounding results when one considers how beat up the ANV was.
3. Lee had a hard time disciplining his subordinates. Read Lee’s Lieutenants…you will see this as a common thread all of the way through.
This may appear to be nitpicks…but these opinions are ones I formed with years of reading, research and seminars.
Grant, like Lee, had some flaws (no, drinking was not one of them). He badly mismanaged his army before Shiloh…but corrected his errors on the battlefield. At Iuka and Corinth he was guilty of poor battlefield management. However, he learned from these errors. He recognized after the Holly Springs raid that he had to find another way to get at Vicksburg and he tenaciously held to that, adjust his plans as needed. He, like Lee, often got more out of subordinates which others could not. He was able to forge an effective team amongst the likes of Baldy Smith, George Thomas and Joseph Hooker. But most importantly he recognized that the battlefield was not divorced form the political. In a civil war, the political side of events is deeply connected to the battlefield and vice versa. And unlike some Union commanders, he fought with what he had…and won. He understood the way to win the war was to apply full combat power at all points. A rebellion only can last as long as the rebels have a standing force in the field (see Washington, George and the Continental Army). Grant knew, destroy the Confederate Army and you win the war. He was the first one to pick up Scott’s Anaconda Plan and apply it.
Sherman….ahh, now there is an interesting situation. Like all men, Sherman had his demons and he sometimes allowed them to get the best of him...They almost knocked him out of the war early on. He was brilliant at Shiloh…once he got over his prejudice of volunteer officers. Considering the terrain, he actually performed fairly well at Chickasaw Bayou. He probably should not have sent in the second charge but he had to try. He did not believe in Grant’s plan at Vicksburg for quite some time…in fact McClernand was the true believer of the group and performed well at Port Gibson. His performance at Tunnel Hill at Chattanooga was, to be charitable, bad. And he was overwhelmed at first in the Atlanta Campaign…he never quite seemed to get Joe Johnston where he needed to get him. And his success at Atlanta was due to the effective generalship of George Thomas and the fortuitous removal of Joe Johnston with and his replacement by the overmatched John B. Hood. But he grew into a highly effective Army Group commander. But while he did great in Georgia and the Carolinas, how much of that was due to the size of his force?
So, Lee was the best the Confederates had and Grant was the best the Federals had.

ALL THAT to say the truth in the last sentence?:eek:

I'm kiddin'; I'm a kidder.:))

Re: Malvern Hill. Perspecticve is everything. Lee had been rolling the Federals back in battle after battle, day after day, for a whole victory-filled week. Each time, 'those people' managed to barely avoid total catastrophe in the nick of time. Twice his troops, confident and desperate at the same time, had broken through 'impregnable' positions and seen the enemy flee in wild disorderly rout before him. And he'd caught 'em again.

He knew that there was nowhere they could escape to if he beat 'em one last time. He also knew that the war, if it went on long enough, was a sure loser for his side. If he was going to win, it would take the seizing of those rare opportunities that Fate sometimes hands a lucky commander that has the guts to roll the dice.

He HAD to try it.

But instead of the final, crushing hammer blow that he'd ordered, he got individual brigades going in and being shattered one at a time, until there was NOTHING that could break once-beaten-now-triumphant Union troops.

ofogs
19 Jan 08,, 21:12
He was terribly over-rated based on ONE BATTLE? Mate, it was his worst day EVAH, no doubt, and can be said to have been as decisive an action as ever he fought, that is true. But DUDE, come ON. The parts that you point out were all true, and STILL came dam' close to WINNING it, and if that's what an over-rated general looks like to YOU, your standard is a bit too close to perfection, I'd say.

I recommended this one battle as a case study. The purpose of a case study is to look at one data point in depth to try to learn more about it and the collection of data as a whole. The decisiveness of the battle, combined with the wealth of knowledge available about it means it is pretty well suited to serve as a case study.


Easy to say from where we sit. Who knew that in July 1863, though?

You're moving into perhaps the most critical battle of the war. You're deep in enemy territory. There's a guy who's never commanded a corps before in a crucial point of the battle. You wouldn't pay some extra attention to that guy? Really?

Besides, the Napoleonic technique I described was based on what Napoleon did over 50 years prior. A student of Napoleonic tactics and warfare would have known about how he commanded.

BudW
19 Jan 08,, 21:14
Thanks for the great comments, I learn a great deal from all you WAB posters.

Bluesman
19 Jan 08,, 21:22
I recommended this one battle as a case study. The purpose of a case study is to look at one data point in depth to try to learn more about it and the collection of data as a whole. The decisiveness of the battle, combined with the wealth of knowledge available about it means it is pretty well suited to serve as a case study.



You're moving into perhaps the most critical battle of the war. You're deep in enemy territory. There's a guy who's never commanded a corps before in a crucial point of the battle. You wouldn't pay some extra attention to that guy? Really?

Besides, the Napoleonic technique I described was based on what Napoleon did over 50 years prior. A student of Napoleonic tactics and warfare would have known about how he commanded.

Okay, I know what a case study is. :rolleyes:

No, I follow what you're saying, and I even agree with it to the point of saying Lee wasn't perfect.

But who IS? I mean, the reason battles and leaders are so fascinating is because of the POSSIBILITIES. And I think Lee was uncharacteristically off his game, and, as I've written in a thread almost identical to this one (http://www.worldaffairsboard.com/early-modern-imperial-ages/38336-lee-vs-grant.html),
Time after time after time...the Gettysburg campaign was a series of completely improbable events and combinations of wildly unlikely things that when taken together, served to frustrate all of the strengths in the best army ever commanded by a master of tactical and operational art., and I still believe that. If he'd been on top of it, that would never have happened.

And there were so MANY 'ifs' that, taken together, this isn't a good case study at all.

Albany Rifles
20 Jan 08,, 05:06
[QUOTE=, he sets out on his own to explore another sequence of displays, utterly altering his learning experience, and proving that he, at least, is not going to be led around, that he's just so much more avant-garde and ORIGINAL.

I can not remember that I went through a museum with a guide. I have been through a few with a docent or the staf historian, but not with the standard guide. I will say the current exhibit at the Virginia Historical Society is very informative on comparing Grant & Lee.

Go to a Civil War roundtable sometime,

Would you like to see my membership card for the Richmond Civil War roundtable...or Capital City Roundtable...or the Civil War Roundtable of Greater Boston?

Lee was excellent, with imperfections, much like ANY of the Great Captains.

Yup, that is what I said...and his greatest imperfection was he was a traitor. However, he was a an excellent combat commander.


And to give in to the lay-historian's common disease of seeking to magnify out of proportion his flaws in some iconoclastic show of anti-me-too-ism is just as boring and tiresome as accepting without criticism something like Freeman's valentine to Lee.

Lay historian? Don't think so. MA in Civil War history in 1992


How 'bout we all do this: accept that the guys that would know the most about it - the men that had to contend with, and usually lost to, General Lee probably had more on the ball than anybody else, re: his abilities as a commander? And their judgement is clear: he was EXCELLENT.

It is a common failing amongst amateur historians to take 1st person primary sources at face value...i.e., the people who wrote immediatly following the war. They always said their enemy was tougher, better, etc. They had a vested interest to say that their enemy was almost unbeatable. Civil War memoirs of general officers need to be taken with a large grain of salt.

Lee was the best the Confederates had.


Still curious on why you knew I would respond to this question. Do we need to be vetted or something before we join in?

Albany Rifles
20 Jan 08,, 05:08
Hi guys could you recommend any books for me to read up on The American Civil war?
Also why do so many guys regard Nathan Bedford Forrest so highly?
All i know about him was that he was a very cruel and racist southern commander.


Start with the sticky on this board Recommended Civil War readings. Some good stuff there. If you want more or have any other questions, feel free to send me a frivate message.

Bluesman
20 Jan 08,, 06:15
I can not remember that I went through a museum with a guide. I have been through a few with a docent or the staf historian, but not with the standard guide. I will say the current exhibit at the Virginia Historical Society is very informative on comparing Grant & Lee.
Would you like to see my membership card for the Richmond Civil War roundtable...or Capital City Roundtable...or the Civil War Roundtable of Greater Boston?
See? I just KNEW you were one o' them guys...'Well, ACTUALLY...'

:biggrin:

No, I'm absolutely certain you know the subject matter; that attitude almost pre-supposes it. None of that type is ever a clueless naif that is eager to make a fool of himself by popping off with NO grounding in his area of aggressive re-consideration of what we all thought we knew.:)

I'm absolutely convinced that you're extremely well-read and educated on the topic, and your comments are always intelligent and informed, as well as being just a bit off the course of what all us unwashed thought we understood, but which we didn't, not REALLY.

Let me ask you as a test (and the fact that it IS a test will skew the answer, but no matter; it's still instructive to go through the exercise) whether you consider Bruce Catton a good, mediocre or poor Civil War historian and author. He's been called each by people just like us: myself, as a layman, you, as a master.

Also, and you may be reacting to me poking you with sticks, I can tell you're irritated. Know this: I state again that your comments are informed, and that I really LIKE discussions with you. I just happen to believe that this taking a 'new' point-of-view is seen as somehow a quality to be seized by any REAL historian and it's a mark of distinction, and that it's ever so much more fun and even respectable to seek an iconoclasitc and even hostile stance of what was once accepted fact or interpretation. I do not say that ANY reconsideration of history is uncalled-for, because that way lies ignorance. But surely you know what I'm referring to: that reflex (it almost is exactly like a reflex, something uncontrolled and innate) in historians to swim aginst the tide, because, after all, where's the glory of saying, 'Yep, that McPherson dude sure had some great insights into the Confederate Cabinet interplay.' Gotta show where he got it WRONG if you wanna be seen as the guy that REALLY had something on the ball.

I know you know what I'm talking about, or maybe not, but I see it EVERYWHERE that history is studied. I'm not talking about difference of opinion, here, I'm on about the SEEKING of a difference of opinion.

And I think you do that.

No offense, buddy. If you're honest about it after a little introspection, and then tell me I'm all wet, okay, cool. I never said you were ignorant; I know you're NOT.

Oh, and Lee was no traitor. He served his country honorably and well, as he was a Virginian, and could not raise arms against his country. So, when they seceded, he reluctantly followed; duty, as he saw it, forbade him to do anything else. Thomas was a Virginian, too and by fighting against HIS country, it is HE who could more fairly be called a traitor than Lee. It was BEFORE the Civil War that the United States ARE; AFTER, the United States IS.

clackers
20 Jan 08,, 09:28
... was he over-rated by his opponents? Nah. Frequently, he was UNDER-rated, and look what happened almost every single time they did that.

Which Union generals do you think underrated him, Bluesman? If you mean Hooker, I'm not sure he believed his own boasts ... surely he was "whistling in the dark" ... when his moment came to actually attack Lee, he pulled back into Chancellorsville instead ...

clackers
20 Jan 08,, 09:47
...and his greatest imperfection was he was a traitor.

Gee, AR, you're going to have to help an Australian here ... certainly, the politics was that Andrew Johnson wanted Lee to go to trial for treason in June 1865, and only Grant's threat to resign saved The Old Man ...

But in 1861 did the Federal Government actually have the constitutional right to stop a state seceding?

If not, why would Lee be considered a traitor to a voluntary Union rather than a loyal Virginian?

Shek
20 Jan 08,, 11:44
Gee, AR, you're going to have to help an Australian here ... certainly, the politics was that Andrew Johnson wanted Lee to go to trial for treason in June 1865, and only Grant's threat to resign saved The Old Man ...

But in 1861 did the Federal Government actually have the constitutional right to stop a state seceding?

If not, why would Lee be considered a traitor to a voluntary Union rather than a loyal Virginian?

Clackers,

You've got the question backwards - was there a constitutional right to secession, and the answer is no.

The Articles of Confederation was a "perpetual" Union, and the Constitution replaced it to for a "more perfect" Union. Therefore, one has to look at the Declaration of Independence for a moral right to declare revolution. However, how can one declare a moral obligation when the express purpose is to prevent the independence of slaves?

The following essay is a good one on this topic, The Claremont Institute - The Case Against Secession (http://www.claremont.org/publications/pubid.171/pub_detail.asp)

Bluesman
20 Jan 08,, 17:15
Clackers,

You've got the question backwards - was there a constitutional right to secession, and the answer is no.

The Articles of Confederation was a "perpetual" Union, and the Constitution replaced it to for a "more perfect" Union. Therefore, one has to look at the Declaration of Independence for a moral right to declare revolution. However, how can one declare a moral obligation when the express purpose is to prevent the independence of slaves?

The following essay is a good one on this topic, The Claremont Institute - The Case Against Secession (http://www.claremont.org/publications/pubid.171/pub_detail.asp)

Well, when secession became a FACT through the legally elected representatives of the individual states, is Lee in any position to say that he was now duty-bound to fight against his 'country' (as it was understood by anybody you could've asked back then) of Virginia?

What we're talking about here is the difference in perspective from Lee as opposed to what the legislators believed they were entitled to do. And I'm not at all convinced that, before the question was settled for all time by force of arms in 1865, that in 1860, it wasn't legal. I mean, if what we're talking about is a free association of represented states and not an empire (the definition of which is a diverse set of peoples, held together by force), then I'd say that the South or any other piece of the Union DOES have a right to secede, implied in the very act of creation of same Union in the first dam' place.

So, LEE had very little choice from his point-of-view but to do his duty to the group he felt he owed his allegiance to - Virginia. (Remember - the Union had, in actual fact, been dissolved by the act of multiple states seceding, so when the United States Army, which he HAD been a member of, was ordered to attack Virginia, it was now a foreign army, sent to subdue a free people exercising their rights, as they saw them, right or wrong.)

I have no doubt he would've taken Lincoln's offer of command of Federal forces, had Virginia NOT seceded, and that seems to me to settle the question right there as to whether Lee was a traitor. He wasn't. And neither was his ancestor, George Washington, who did something very similar.

Bluesman
20 Jan 08,, 17:17
Oh, and hey - I lost your number. Call me.

clackers
21 Jan 08,, 00:08
Clackers,

You've got the question backwards - was there a constitutional right to secession, and the answer is no.

I'm not sure that I have, Shek ... some questions for you, if I may ... :)

Doesn't the Tenth Amendment (1791) stress that any power not delegated to the Union or not explicit in the Constitution remains the right of the states?

Where in the Constitution did the States delegate the right to even suppress a secession?

The thirteen colonies surely didn't sign up to an arrangement where they might end up hapless subjects of the Congress equivalent of King George ... were Virginia, New York and Rhode Island so worried about a possible collective tyranny they made a point of ratifying the Constitution only with clauses permitting them to withdraw if the new government ever became oppressive?

During the war didn't the Federal Government accept the western counties of Virginia seceding to the Union, and in fact give them statehood as a reward?

And after the war, didn't the Union accept Texas seceding from Mexico, and give them statehood too?

Thanks for the info so far, Shek ...!

Kansas Bear
21 Jan 08,, 00:19
And neither was his ancestor, George Washington, who did something very similar.


Not to be a b@stard, but George Washington had no children. At least according to this:
Martha Dandridge (http://www.genealogics.org/getperson.php?personID=I00136044&tree=LEO)

Robert E. Lee married Mary Anna Randolph Custis, daughter of George Washington Parke Custis, who was the son of John Parke Custis, whose mother is Martha Dandridge, who later married George Washington.

Blademaster
21 Jan 08,, 01:56
Victory is the final arbritator of who was right in the first place. Why? because the victors write the history thereafter.

clackers
21 Jan 08,, 04:13
Victory is the final arbritator of who was right in the first place. Why? because the victors write the history thereafter.

Exactly, Blademaster, which is why I'm keen to get a range of views on this ... :)

ofogs
21 Jan 08,, 04:47
Well, when secession became a FACT through the legally elected representatives of the individual states, is Lee in any position to say that he was now duty-bound to fight against his 'country' (as it was understood by anybody you could've asked back then) of Virginia?
Since the President of the United States still existed, and his oath duty bound him to obey the orders of the President, then yes, he was duty bound. Furthermore, since the oath also required true faith and allegiance to the United States and to support the Constitution, he was duty bound to fight the states which attempted to secede. The first thing the Continental Congress ever did was pass the oath of office into law (The oath of office: a historical guide to moral leadership | Air & Space Power Journal | Find Articles at BNET.com (http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0NXL/is_4_16/ai_97737375)). He completely disregarded his duty. He did not support the Constitution, instead, he directly acted as an agent against it. That is treason.

Blademaster
21 Jan 08,, 13:59
Exactly, Blademaster, which is why I'm keen to get a range of views on this ... :)

You missed my point. Why bother get a range of views? I mean you had a range of views back in those days and some of those people were willing to fight for those views and guess what. All of them except one lost and the victor who won got to say that their view is right. The others can keep debating about their views but have to submit to the will of the victor. Hence, those views have little substance to it.

lwarmonger
22 Jan 08,, 01:56
A lot of people on this thread have been saying that Lee was over-rated because he failed to account for the North's industrial and numerical superiority... however that is ludicrous. It is like saying that Yamamoto was overrated because he wasn't able to defeat the United States. In both situations, given the balance of forces against the underdog (the Confederacy and Japan), their position was quite simply unwinnable as long as the United States continued to fight. There was no way to win without the North choosing to quit, and so the Confederacy was screwed as long as Lincoln was in office.

lwarmonger
22 Jan 08,, 02:08
Since the President of the United States still existed, and his oath duty bound him to obey the orders of the President, then yes, he was duty bound. Furthermore, since the oath also required true faith and allegiance to the United States and to support the Constitution, he was duty bound to fight the states which attempted to secede. The first thing the Continental Congress ever did was pass the oath of office into law (The oath of office: a historical guide to moral leadership | Air & Space Power Journal | Find Articles at BNET.com (http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0NXL/is_4_16/ai_97737375)). He completely disregarded his duty. He did not support the Constitution, instead, he directly acted as an agent against it. That is treason.

You are forgetting that secession was caused by the South saying that the North was violating their constitutional states rights through the tyranny of the majority... a view many southerners held, and one that is supportable if you look at the manner in which the constitution was interpreted in 1860. When we swear an oath as an Army officer we swear to protect the constitution and obey the orders of the commander in chief... but what happens if those two components of the oath come into conflict? That was the problem confronting Lee, and I for one cannot blame him for choosing his home state... I just regret that he had to make that choice at all.


I would also note that before you start denouncing Lee as a traitor, he was really the reason why reconciliation was possible. It was he who had the credibility to tell his men not to conduct a guerrilla campaign and make it stick. Conquering the South was one thing... making it a part of the United States again was made possible only because Lee was an honorable man. I shudder to think how history would have turned out if he had advocated fighting the occupation.

Albany Rifles
22 Jan 08,, 03:32
:P My view of Lee (and any other Confederate who had been a Federal official) has less to do with the right of secession (in which I say see Shek’s post…spot on) and more to do with what OMOGS said…it centers on the oath of office. Lee, Longstreet, Jeff Davis, Joe Johnston and so on had all taken, numerous times, the oath of an officer to support and defend the Constitution. NONE of them took an oath to the Commonwealth of Virginia, state of Tennessee, etc. they violated that oath by taking up arms against their country.

When I teach my Civil War survey class, I start out my class after talking about the syllabus with the statement “R.E. Lee was a traitor.” Now, living in the Old Dominion, that always ensures class participation!!! After the final exam, I ask it as a question and spend the last hour of the course, ungraded in leading a discussion on the topic. Since Marse Robert was never tried for treason, there is no right answer. But in my opinion? Well, walks like a duck, quacks like a duck…..

On to the rest.

Bluesman,

First of all, I blush when you call me master….doesn’t really apply. As I said to a good friend of mine (who IS a master) I am kind of a remora in the school of Civil War history. If I did not have my real job I could put more time into it and maybe make it.

Anyway, in this whole realm of who was better, who was worse, etc…I gotta tell you, I have this vision of Joshua Chamberlain and Pete Longstreet looking out across the fields of Gettysburg (one of my least favorite battlefields) while sitting on a wall and one turning to other and saying “Ya know, in about 150 years, a whole bunch of people are going to look back and argue over whether we fed our troops the right food for breakfast!” Those poor guys have been second guessed to the nth degree. Hell, I think of one charge I made 21 years ago as a company commander at NTC and realize I screwed up. These poor SOBs have had every one of their decisions over analyzed worse than any ex-wife could do (and I know of what I speak in THAT department!)

I did do my graduate work on Grant…mostly because that was what was available in the day. If I could do it differently and in today’s world I would go a different route (how’s THIS for a pretentious title of a master thesis “JFC Fuller’s Nine Principles of War and an Evaluation of U.S Grant’s Generalship at Shiloh, Vicksburg and Chattanooga”) I have learned since that was published 15 years ago to take myself a lot less seriously!

As for reinterpretation of history... As historians it is unavoidable. In fact there is a term for it…historicism. It means we reinterpret history based on the values and experiences of our time. Anyone who takes a graduate degree in history must take a class in historiography (methods and practices of research) and historicism is a big part of it. I know you are familiar with the term of Schools of thought. Well, the study of our Civil War falls into that perfectly. And each is about 20 – 25 years old. Immediately following the war was the Devil Theory.ie. The war was caused by evil men doing bad things. It gave rise to the Lost Cause view in which those in vogue in the Confederacy got to trash those who were considered “questionable” (Jubal Early and Pete Longstreet anyone?) It also was the period covered by the autobiographies, etc. (Hence my warning on depending on them as a source of info). After that was the period covered by the first professional historians (signified by Woodrow Wilson, the first PhD in history in the US) which was the first analytical view of the war. That reinterpretation continues to this day. So my interpretation of the Civil War is different today than it was 18 years ago in grad school because we are in a different period of interpretation since then.

Oh, and why does this occur? A HUGE reason is we are coming across new original sources of materiel, which coupled with improved secondary sources, force us to get it right…until the next school of thought comes along/

So, backing into your question about Bruce Catton. Mr. Catton was a wonderful story teller…much like Shelby Foote and Ken Burns. He and they are to be lauded for bringing great stories to a wider audience. I own Catton’s Trilogy of the AOP in a signed original addition as well as on tape and love listening to it while driving long distances. But I would go to the works of Will Greene, Ken Noe, Brooks Simpson, Jeff Wert, Gordon Rhea, Wiley Sword, Gary Gallagher or Allan Nolan if I wanted some serious discussion of the Civil War.

Thus endeth the lesson!:biggrin:

And I would have replied sooner but I was too wrapped up in my beloved Patriots forgoing their way to the Super Bowl!!! :P

Albany Rifles
22 Jan 08,, 03:52
You are forgetting that secession was caused by the South saying that the North was violating their constitutional states rights through the tyranny of the majority... a view many southerners held, and one that is supportable if you look at the manner in which the constitution was interpreted in 1860. When we swear an oath as an Army officer we swear to protect the constitution and obey the orders of the commander in chief... but what happens if those two components of the oath come into conflict? That was the problem confronting Lee, and I for one cannot blame him for choosing his home state... I just regret that he had to make that choice at all.


I would also note that before you start denouncing Lee as a traitor, he was really the reason why reconciliation was possible. It was he who had the credibility to tell his men not to conduct a guerrilla campaign and make it stick. Conquering the South was one thing... making it a part of the United States again was made possible only because Lee was an honorable man. I shudder to think how history would have turned out if he had advocated fighting the occupation.


All of what you say is true...however, I believe (not "know") the Confederates were mistaken. The Founding Fathers set up a government so that differences could be worked out. I truly believe that they NEVER believed that they were establishing a framework in which there could be a justifiable reason for disolving that government. Not even Tom Jefferson believed the country should be torn apart.

clackers
22 Jan 08,, 04:29
You missed my point. Why bother get a range of views? ... The others can keep debating about their views but have to submit to the will of the victor. ...

Yes, sadly, I did miss your point, BM.

That view ... that "winners are grinners", "might is right", etc etc, doesn't answer any of my questions to Shek, I'm afraid ... http://www.worldaffairsboard.com/450616-post37.html

Can anyone out there (including Southerners) provide some answers?

lwarmonger
22 Jan 08,, 09:56
All of what you say is true...however, I believe (not "know") the Confederates were mistaken. The Founding Fathers set up a government so that differences could be worked out. I truly believe that they NEVER believed that they were establishing a framework in which there could be a justifiable reason for disolving that government. Not even Tom Jefferson believed the country should be torn apart.

If the system doesn't work, you break it... which is the situation the southerners believed they were in. And once again, looking at the perspective of the time I think they had some justification for that view.

Now, as for the founding fathers. While they did establish a framework in which disputes could be resolved without secession, a critical part of that framework was checks and balances within the federal government (Legislative, Executive, Judicial), however it was also embodied with checks to the federal government at the state level and at the personal level with the promise of a Bill of Rights to follow. The checks to the federal government from the states were being slowly eroded prior to the civil war, rather more quickly afterwards, and were finally removed by the interventionist interpretation of the interstate commerce clause by the supreme court... to the extent that today we have no check to the federal government outside of the federal government... and while the Civil War might have sped that process up a bit, it was only a matter of time anyways. That was the problem that sparked secession. The North and the South were voting against one another, and since the North had a lot more voters, it was winning... and beginning to override the checks that were built into the system against the federal government. Now what could the South do about that? Working within the system wasn't effective because they were outnumbered substantially and with the way immigration patterns were working it was becoming even more imbalanced over time. The judiciary is either voted for locally, or appointed over the long term, so that worked against them too. The only remaining check in their arsenal was states rights (something that as contemporary Americans we don't even seriously consider because they were done away with two lifetimes ago), and those were being eroded as the federal government gathered more power to itself.

To put it shortly, the founding fathers never dreamed that the government would become as powerful as it has through extremely tenuous interpretations of the interstate commerce clause (while I agree with the objectives, the means set a very bad precedent of twisting the constitution to mean what people in high places want it to mean) in combination with a national income tax (which gave the government unprecedented resources).

And since it is the founding father's framework and the intents within we are talking about, I'd even go so far to say that many of them (namely that very sizable faction that was against a strong federal government) would have advocated secession (rather than allow a narrow majority rule) at several points in our history were they alive to pass judgment on the various ways that we have changed the government structure as set up by them.

Albany Rifles
22 Jan 08,, 15:54
I guess we can agree to disagree.

I don;t think we can know what the Founders were thinking. And whiel judges are not perfect they certainly have a deeper understanding of the law than I do (of course, since my brother is a judge, maybe I have the wrong view!)

lwarmonger
22 Jan 08,, 18:25
I guess we can agree to disagree.

I don;t think we can know what the Founders were thinking. And whiel judges are not perfect they certainly have a deeper understanding of the law than I do (of course, since my brother is a judge, maybe I have the wrong view!)

Oh come on! It is your God given right as an American to not only speculate, but pass off your speculations as fact! :))

On a more serious note, the beauty of our constitution is that it is easy to read, and fairly easy to understand (unlike that monstrosity the EU tried to put over on its citizens a few years ago). You don't have to be a judge to read it and get a good understanding of the intent behind it... and you certainly don't have to be a judge to understand that a clause designed to prevent internal tariffs (so harmful to an economy) was never intended to be used as an excuse to remove the relevance of state governments (it wasn't just a method of desegregating, it also was used to extend the federal government into administering local affairs and setting up government structures parallel and superior to existing state structures... thus usurping many of the roles that state government had filled up until that time).

Bluesman
22 Jan 08,, 18:52
:P My view of Lee (and any other Confederate who had been a Federal official) has less to do with the right of secession (in which I say see Shek’s post…spot on) and more to do with what OMOGS said…it centers on the oath of office. Lee, Longstreet, Jeff Davis, Joe Johnston and so on had all taken, numerous times, the oath of an officer to support and defend the Constitution. NONE of them took an oath to the Commonwealth of Virginia, state of Tennessee, etc. they violated that oath by taking up arms against their country.

When I teach my Civil War survey class, I start out my class after talking about the syllabus with the statement “R.E. Lee was a traitor.” Now, living in the Old Dominion, that always ensures class participation!!! After the final exam, I ask it as a question and spend the last hour of the course, ungraded in leading a discussion on the topic. Since Marse Robert was never tried for treason, there is no right answer. But in my opinion? Well, walks like a duck, quacks like a duck…..

On to the rest.

Bluesman,

First of all, I blush when you call me master….doesn’t really apply. As I said to a good friend of mine (who IS a master) I am kind of a remora in the school of Civil War history. If I did not have my real job I could put more time into it and maybe make it.

Anyway, in this whole realm of who was better, who was worse, etc…I gotta tell you, I have this vision of Joshua Chamberlain and Pete Longstreet looking out across the fields of Gettysburg (one of my least favorite battlefields) while sitting on a wall and one turning to other and saying “Ya know, in about 150 years, a whole bunch of people are going to look back and argue over whether we fed our troops the right food for breakfast!” Those poor guys have been second guessed to the nth degree. Hell, I think of one charge I made 21 years ago as a company commander at NTC and realize I screwed up. These poor SOBs have had every one of their decisions over analyzed worse than any ex-wife could do (and I know of what I speak in THAT department!)

I did do my graduate work on Grant…mostly because that was what was available in the day. If I could do it differently and in today’s world I would go a different route (how’s THIS for a pretentious title of a master thesis “JFC Fuller’s Nine Principles of War and an Evaluation of U.S Grant’s Generalship at Shiloh, Vicksburg and Chattanooga”) I have learned since that was published 15 years ago to take myself a lot less seriously!

As for reinterpretation of history... As historians it is unavoidable. In fact there is a term for it…historicism. It means we reinterpret history based on the values and experiences of our time. Anyone who takes a graduate degree in history must take a class in historiography (methods and practices of research) and historicism is a big part of it. I know you are familiar with the term of Schools of thought. Well, the study of our Civil War falls into that perfectly. And each is about 20 – 25 years old. Immediately following the war was the Devil Theory.ie. The war was caused by evil men doing bad things. It gave rise to the Lost Cause view in which those in vogue in the Confederacy got to trash those who were considered “questionable” (Jubal Early and Pete Longstreet anyone?) It also was the period covered by the autobiographies, etc. (Hence my warning on depending on them as a source of info). After that was the period covered by the first professional historians (signified by Woodrow Wilson, the first PhD in history in the US) which was the first analytical view of the war. That reinterpretation continues to this day. So my interpretation of the Civil War is different today than it was 18 years ago in grad school because we are in a different period of interpretation since then.

Oh, and why does this occur? A HUGE reason is we are coming across new original sources of materiel, which coupled with improved secondary sources, force us to get it right…until the next school of thought comes along/

So, backing into your question about Bruce Catton. Mr. Catton was a wonderful story teller…much like Shelby Foote and Ken Burns. He and they are to be lauded for bringing great stories to a wider audience. I own Catton’s Trilogy of the AOP in a signed original addition as well as on tape and love listening to it while driving long distances. But I would go to the works of Will Greene, Ken Noe, Brooks Simpson, Jeff Wert, Gordon Rhea, Wiley Sword, Gary Gallagher or Allan Nolan if I wanted some serious discussion of the Civil War.

Thus endeth the lesson!:biggrin:

And I would have replied sooner but I was too wrapped up in my beloved Patriots forgoing their way to the Super Bowl!!! :P

GREAT post...I wish I had the day off.

But just a drive-by comment: does it irritate YOU the way it irritates ME when somebody SETS OUT to find that 'new' interpretation, that it's obvious that there was no impartial search for objective Truth, following wherever the facts lead, without regard for making a name by refuting those that came before and made their own name? To me, it's more than just a question of historicism, or even new-found material; it's almost a commercial decision, taken to make sure that a knowledgable reviewer doesn't trash your life's work by saying, 'No new ground broken; Shirer said it better, anyway.'

THAT is what I constantly find myself fighting: my own backlash prejudice against those smart-asses in the front row at the Civil War Roundtable's lectures, that just can't WAIT for the opportunity to publicly point out the true but probably meaningless trivial factoid that would serve to buttress their own pet prejudice against what just EVERYbody believes, but which is, in their reality, just WRONGWRONGWRONG.

So, forgive me if I tend to see that tendency, even if it's not there. 'ACTUALLY, Dr. McPherson, I believe you'll find...' makes me think that this guy is just another of the tiresome attention-starved experts that needs to be validated in his own beliefs, even if he has to swim against the tide that runs the way it does for very good reasons.

And it IRRITATES me.:mad:

Oh, and GO PATS!!!:cool:

Albany Rifles
22 Jan 08,, 19:12
We always have to deal with people and their pet rocks. So long as it doesn't take us on the Road to Abilene, it doesn't bother me much. If they try to take over the event, then it gets annoying but I try not to let it bother me.

As for conducting "research" to "prove" a preselected outcome? Tripe...and I don't read it. That is not to say I don't enjoy reading reinterpretations of history. And I will ALWAYS read multiple sources about an event. For instance, a lot of people have believed that Meade was delitorious after Gettysburg for not pursuing Lee (that included Lincoln). But Kent Masterson Brown's Retreat from Gettysburg gives an entirely fresh and new look of the events of 3 - 14 July. However, for me, the jury is still out. I await the publishing of J.D. Petruzzi,Eric J. Wittenberg & Michael F. Nugent's One Continuous Fight whcih covers the same topic. All four gents are relooking the original source material as well as some newly discovered archival items which really talk about how badly torn up the Unon lines of logistics were which precluded a full scale attack. Also the terrain did not favor it. All that said I am waiting on the full reading before I "set" my opinion.

I think as an historian you HAVE to be willing and ready to have your views challenged and changed. It promotes rigorous research and a careful consideration of what ultimately is revealed as the truth.

However, remember, truth often comeswith a date time group.

S2
22 Jan 08,, 22:13
Lovely discussion, gentlemen. Thanks for the interesting read.

Bluesman
22 Jan 08,, 23:19
Lovely discussion, gentlemen. Thanks for the interesting read.

It WAS, wasn't it?

DANG, I just LOVE history!!!:cool:

BudW
23 Jan 08,, 00:24
Curious what you gentleman think of Stephen Sears as a Civil War Author?

Albany Rifles
23 Jan 08,, 03:26
Curious what you gentleman think of Stephen Sears as a Civil War Author?

As I wrote elsewhere...great writer, lousy speaker. Has a VERY dry and boring delivery. But his books are great.

but then again, that is just my opinion!

:)) :))

Albany Rifles
23 Jan 08,, 03:34
Lovely discussion, gentlemen. Thanks for the interesting read.


Oh just be quiet...you and Rommel are next!!!

:biggrin: :biggrin: :biggrin:

TopHatter
23 Jan 08,, 04:40
Oh just be quiet...you and Rommel are next!!!

:biggrin: :biggrin: :biggrin:

OK, silly (bordering on fan-boyish *SMACK*) question time for Albany Rifles, Bluesman et al:

Have you read, and if so, what did you think of Harry Turtledove's Guns Of The South?

Did he get Lee, Grant etc. pretty well? Or is his alternate history work more of an alternate reality?

(I won't ask about his other alternate Civil War work - whatever it's collectively called, don't recall at the moment - because frankly it seemed like his was writing his WorldWar series all over again, only not as good)

lwarmonger
23 Jan 08,, 05:37
OK, silly (bordering on fan-boyish *SMACK*) question time for Albany Rifles, Bluesman et al:

Have you read, and if so, what did you think of Harry Turtledove's Guns Of The South?

Did he get Lee, Grant etc. pretty well? Or is his alternate history work more of an alternate reality?

(I won't ask about his other alternate Civil War work - whatever it's collectively called, don't recall at the moment - because frankly it seemed like his was writing his WorldWar series all over again, only not as good)

That is one of my least favorite novels. On the other hand, How Few Remain, the Great War series and the Settling Accounts novels are great.

Gotta love the cover on In at the Death... nukes going off over Roanoke.

Albany Rifles
23 Jan 08,, 13:57
OK, silly (bordering on fan-boyish *SMACK*) question time for Albany Rifles, Bluesman et al:

Have you read, and if so, what did you think of Harry Turtledove's Guns Of The South?

Did he get Lee, Grant etc. pretty well? Or is his alternate history work more of an alternate reality?

(I won't ask about his other alternate Civil War work - whatever it's collectively called, don't recall at the moment - because frankly it seemed like his was writing his WorldWar series all over again, only not as good)

Yes I did read it...because I was stuck in a travel warp and had nothing else to read.

That is about 12 hours of my life the author owes me back.

So, no, I believe he was wide of the mark on both men.

And no, I have not read any of the other books.

Shek
23 Jan 08,, 14:51
I'm not sure that I have, Shek ... some questions for you, if I may ... :)

Doesn't the Tenth Amendment (1791) stress that any power not delegated to the Union or not explicit in the Constitution remains the right of the states?

Where in the Constitution did the States delegate the right to even suppress a secession?

The Constitution is explicitly silent on secession. Suppression of insurrections were provide for in the enumerated Congressional powers.

So the question boils down to whether the Constitution was a mere treaty between states or the creation of a single body of the people, and if you follow this link, you can see what the "father of the Constitution" has to say about secession:

Madison on Secession. - Article Preview - The New York Times (http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=9D02E7DB1331E234BC4F51DFB7668389 649FDE)

This 6 page essay takes a more in-depth look at the issue and will illuminate Madison's comments.

http://www.geocities.com/sande106/LibertyandUnion2.pdf


The thirteen colonies surely didn't sign up to an arrangement where they might end up hapless subjects of the Congress equivalent of King George ... were Virginia, New York and Rhode Island so worried about a possible collective tyranny they made a point of ratifying the Constitution only with clauses permitting them to withdraw if the new government ever became oppressive?

If you look at the language of the conditional ratification, "happiness" is the common word I spot, which echoes directly the Declaration of Independence and thereby invokes the right to revolution, just as the colonists invoked the right to revolution.


During the war didn't the Federal Government accept the western counties of Virginia seceding to the Union, and in fact give them statehood as a reward?

Indeed, and the constitutionality of this is dubious, and Lincoln himself acknowledges this move as being realpolitik in nature:


Lincoln and West Virginia Statehood (http://www.wvculture.org/HISTORY/journal_wvh/wvh24-4.html)

The division of a State is dreaded as a precedent. But a measure made expedient by a war, is no precedent for times of peace. It is said that the admission of West-Virginia, is secession, and tolerated only because it is our secession. Well, if we call it by that name, there is still difference enough between secession against the constitution, and secession in favor of the constitution.

I believe the admission of West-Virginia into the Union is expedient.


And after the war, didn't the Union accept Texas seceding from Mexico, and give them statehood too?

I'm not aware that Texas invoked secession against Mexico. Rather, because their declaration of independence (http://www.lsjunction.com/docs/tdoi.htm), I am led to believe that they invoked the right to revolution just as the US Declaration of Independence did.


Thanks for the info so far, Shek ...!

No problem. The question of secession obviously wasn't a settled issue prior to the Civil War since the South did invoke the right to secede through their secession documents. I think that the language of the Constitution, and especially the Federalist papers and the "father of the Constitution" himself, makes it clear that the Consitution was no mere treaty between states to be discarded when desired by a state, but instead a binding vote by the people that could be ended through revolution.

Here are two other threads on the board that I think you'd enjoy to wander through when you get a chance:

http://www.worldaffairsboard.com/political-discussions/37394-virginia-apologizes-role-slavery-6.html
http://www.worldaffairsboard.com/political-discussions/9892-south-will-not-rise-again.html

Shek
23 Jan 08,, 15:13
The North and the South were voting against one another, and since the North had a lot more voters, it was winning... and beginning to override the checks that were built into the system against the federal government. Now what could the South do about that? Working within the system wasn't effective because they were outnumbered substantially and with the way immigration patterns were working it was becoming even more imbalanced over time. The judiciary is either voted for locally, or appointed over the long term, so that worked against them too. The only remaining check in their arsenal was states rights (something that as contemporary Americans we don't even seriously consider because they were done away with two lifetimes ago), and those were being eroded as the federal government gathered more power to itself

While I agree that the momentum of preventing the spread of slavery into new territories would have eroded the power of a Southern "caucus" over time, the "tyranny of the majority" would have taken several decades due to the structure of the Senate and the filibuster. Furthermore, as of 1860, the South couldn't cry about the tyranny of the majority given their ability as a bloc to defeat certain bills that they saw as counter to their interest (e.g., the National Bank Bill of 1860 was defeated, the 1857 tariffs were substantially reduced due to the Southern bloc, and the Homestead Act of 1860 was vetoed by a Southern president - of interest here is that dozens of Southern Congressmen had voted for a similar bill just 8 years prior). Furthermore, I don't think that I would claim that the Taney Court was harmful to Southern interests.

The bottomline is at the time of the Civil War, the Southern states had the ability to protect their interest within the system of checks and balances provided for by the Constitution. To reduce the politics of the time to simply South vs. North is a tad simplistic, as there were Eastern and Western interests, and others as well. I suspect K Street wasn't as infested then as it is today, but special interests of all flavors I'm sure existed then as well.

Shek
23 Jan 08,, 15:21
Well, when secession became a FACT through the legally elected representatives of the individual states, is Lee in any position to say that he was now duty-bound to fight against his 'country' (as it was understood by anybody you could've asked back then) of Virginia?

What we're talking about here is the difference in perspective from Lee as opposed to what the legislators believed they were entitled to do. And I'm not at all convinced that, before the question was settled for all time by force of arms in 1865, that in 1860, it wasn't legal. I mean, if what we're talking about is a free association of represented states and not an empire (the definition of which is a diverse set of peoples, held together by force), then I'd say that the South or any other piece of the Union DOES have a right to secede, implied in the very act of creation of same Union in the first dam' place.

So, LEE had very little choice from his point-of-view but to do his duty to the group he felt he owed his allegiance to - Virginia. (Remember - the Union had, in actual fact, been dissolved by the act of multiple states seceding, so when the United States Army, which he HAD been a member of, was ordered to attack Virginia, it was now a foreign army, sent to subdue a free people exercising their rights, as they saw them, right or wrong.)

I have no doubt he would've taken Lincoln's offer of command of Federal forces, had Virginia NOT seceded, and that seems to me to settle the question right there as to whether Lee was a traitor. He wasn't. And neither was his ancestor, George Washington, who did something very similar.

I think that whether Lee should or shouldn't be considered a traitor is irrelevant to the question as to whether he was a great commander or not.

Triple C
23 Jan 08,, 17:52
I guess we can agree to disagree.

I don;t think we can know what the Founders were thinking. And whiel judges are not perfect they certainly have a deeper understanding of the law than I do (of course, since my brother is a judge, maybe I have the wrong view!)

Which founding father? I am under the strong impression that Franklin, Hamilton and Jeferson have had very serious disagreements about what constituted a just government.

Shek
23 Jan 08,, 19:13
Which founding father? I am under the strong impression that Franklin, Hamilton and Jeferson have had very serious disagreements about what constituted a just government.

There were many disagreements over the scope of federal power, and hence, the Federalist and Anti-Federalist Papers. The Constitution passed because the Bill of Rights was added to comfort the anti-Federalists that were concerned about too powerful of a central government.

BadKharma
23 Jan 08,, 19:25
I think that whether Lee should or shouldn't be considered a traitor is irrelevant to the question as to whether he was a great commander or not.

I would have to agree determining the ability of a military commander has nothing to do with that person being considered a traitor. Lee accomplished a lot with limited resources. I feel that puts him well on the road.

lwarmonger
23 Jan 08,, 23:18
While I agree that the momentum of preventing the spread of slavery into new territories would have eroded the power of a Southern "caucus" over time, the "tyranny of the majority" would have taken several decades due to the structure of the Senate and the filibuster. Furthermore, as of 1860, the South couldn't cry about the tyranny of the majority given their ability as a bloc to defeat certain bills that they saw as counter to their interest (e.g., the National Bank Bill of 1860 was defeated, the 1857 tariffs were substantially reduced due to the Southern bloc, and the Homestead Act of 1860 was vetoed by a Southern president - of interest here is that dozens of Southern Congressmen had voted for a similar bill just 8 years prior). Furthermore, I don't think that I would claim that the Taney Court was harmful to Southern interests.


The bottomline is at the time of the Civil War, the Southern states had the ability to protect their interest within the system of checks and balances provided for by the Constitution. To reduce the politics of the time to simply South vs. North is a tad simplistic, as there were Eastern and Western interests, and others as well. I suspect K Street wasn't as infested then as it is today, but special interests of all flavors I'm sure existed then as well.

I agree that at the time of secession things were only somewhat unbalanced and that the South still had the ability to resist things it felt were against their interest, however within the federal system things were clearly beginning to go against them. The North was becoming increasingly powerful within the democracy and was growing more so. With the rise of the Republican Party on the ashes of the Missouri Compromise and the Compromise of 1850, could you really blame Southerners at the time for thinking the federal government was turning against them?

I also agree that the tyranny of the majority was not a completely established fact in 1860... however it was very clearly going to become that way by 1880 or 1890 at the latest, and the lines had already been drawn. Besides, 1860 was the last time the South really had a chance for even a political victory (a military victory in war was beyond them at that point... that time had passed around 1850). By 1880 they would be so heavily outweighed that they would have had no chance in a protracted war without European support.

As for the Eastern and Western interests, while I agree that they existed, there really weren't enough people in the West (nor enough states) to make them a major issue, and the North-South dynamic largely superseded them as the dominant political issue until at least the post Civil War migration west.

Albany Rifles
24 Jan 08,, 16:39
My point about Lee had nothing to do with whether or not he was good commander. My point was that he, along with every other Confederate officer who had previously sworn an oath of allegience to the US, violated said oath and went to war against the Federal government,which was a traitorous offence. That the Federal government did not choose to try them for treason was a very good move...as was the decision of the Confederate field commanders to not follow Davis' wish for guerilla warfare.

BadKharma
24 Jan 08,, 19:08
My point about Lee had nothing to do with whether or not he was good commander. My point was that he, along with every other Confederate officer who had previously sworn an oath of allegience to the US, violated said oath and went to war against the Federal government,which was a traitorous offence. That the Federal government did not choose to try them for treason was a very good move...as was the decision of the Confederate field commanders to not follow Davis' wish for guerilla warfare.
Those are very good points. The Federal Government not prosecuting made healing the wounds easier and if guerilla warfare had been advocated who knows how long it would have taken for re-unification.

lwarmonger
24 Jan 08,, 19:35
My point about Lee had nothing to do with whether or not he was good commander. My point was that he, along with every other Confederate officer who had previously sworn an oath of allegience to the US, violated said oath and went to war against the Federal government,which was a traitorous offence. That the Federal government did not choose to try them for treason was a very good move...as was the decision of the Confederate field commanders to not follow Davis' wish for guerilla warfare.

Alright, I'll give you that, however the point I was trying to make was that it wasn't necessarily as clear cut a case of violating their oath as you made out. According to the interpretation of the constitution that most southerners had (and the way the constitution and federal government was viewed at the time), the federal government was beginning to violate the checks built into it and there wasn't anything the southern states could do about it in the long run... so it wasn't so much a decision to violate their oath as it was following their states (the constitution already being violated in the minds of many southerners as the federal government accumulated more power at the expense of the states).

clackers
25 Jan 08,, 11:36
I'm not aware that Texas invoked secession against Mexico. Rather, because their declaration of independence (http://www.lsjunction.com/docs/tdoi.htm), I am led to believe that they invoked the right to revolution just as the US Declaration of Independence did.


I guess I'm calling "revolution" an overthrow of the existing government (eg the Russian revolution or the English Civil War), and a breaking away (but leaving the existing government intact) a "secession" (eg the American War of Independence or Croatia splitting from Yugoslavia in 1991).

But this is just semantics ... many thanks for your thoughtful responses, Shek, and the links to the two other threads, which were entertaining as well as informative! ;)

Shek
25 Jan 08,, 11:57
I guess I'm calling "revolution" an overthrow of the existing government (eg the Russian revolution or the English Civil War), and a breaking away (but leaving the existing government intact) a "secession" (eg the American War of Independence or Croatia splitting from Yugoslavia in 1991).

Another case of two countries separated by a common language.

We call the American War of Independence the Revolutionary War. As far as secession goes, its context implies a legal split from the parent country. It does describe a de facto split that isn't legal as well, but it would make conversations more cumbersome to have to define secession as being either de facto, de jure, or both, and so that's where the use of revolution can help delineate things in my mind a little bit more cleanly.

Shek
25 Jan 08,, 12:31
According to the interpretation of the constitution that most southerners had (and the way the constitution and federal government was viewed at the time), the federal government was beginning to violate the checks built into it and there wasn't anything the southern states could do about it in the long run... so it wasn't so much a decision to violate their oath as it was following their states (the constitution already being violated in the minds of many southerners as the federal government accumulated more power at the expense of the states).

I still think that you are overstating the case. Here's an excerpt of Southern Democrat Andrew Jackson's proclamation following the South Carolina attempt at nullifcation.


The Avalon Project : President Jackson's Proclamation Regarding Nullification, December 10, 1832 (http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/presiden/proclamations/jack01.htm)

The Constitution of the United States, then, forms a government, not a league, and whether it be formed by compact between the States, or in any other manner, its character is the same. It is a government in which ale the people are represented, which operates directly on the people individually, not upon the States; they retained all the power they did not grant. But each State having expressly parted with so many powers as to constitute jointly with the other States a single nation, cannot from that period possess any right to secede, because such secession does not break a league, but destroys the unity of a nation, and any injury to that unity is not only a breach which would result from the contravention of a compact, but it is an offense against the whole Union. To say that any State may at pleasure secede from the Union, is to say that the United States are not a nation because it would be a solecism to contend that any part of a nation might dissolve its connection with the other parts, to their injury or ruin, without committing any offense. Secession, like any other revolutionary act, may be morally justified by the extremity of oppression; but to call it a constitutional right, is confounding the meaning of terms, and can only be done through gross error, or to deceive those who are willing to assert a right, but would pause before they made a revolution, or incur the penalties consequent upon a failure.

Additionally, you had several Southern states censure South Carolina for attempting to claim the right of nullification, just as most Southern states had censured Kentucky and Virginia for suggesting nullifcation of the Alien and Sedition Acts. So, the "states rights" position proclaimed by Southern politicians at the time of the Civil War find their roots more in the convenience of the argument as a justification than in any deeply rooted tradition of Southern political philosophy.

ofogs
25 Jan 08,, 13:49
So, the "states rights" position proclaimed by Southern politicians at the time of the Civil War find their roots more in the convenience of the argument as a justification than in any deeply rooted tradition of Southern political philosophy.

A quick read of the actual documents of secession support the convenience of argument justification. States which seceded did so to preserve their rights to keep slaves. Anyone who then chose to join their state and ignore their oath to the Constitution chose to do so to support slavery. States' rights really means "States' rights to keep slaves."

Texas:

We hold as undeniable truths that the governments of the various States, and of the confederacy itself, were established exclusively by the white race, for themselves and their posterity; that the African race had no agency in their establishment; that they were rightfully held and regarded as an inferior and dependent race, and in that condition only could their existence in this country be rendered beneficial or tolerable.

That in this free government all white men are and of right ought to be entitled to equal civil and political rights; that the servitude of the African race, as existing in these States, is mutually beneficial to both bond and free, and is abundantly authorized and justified by the experience of mankind, and the revealed will of the Almighty Creator, as recognized by all Christian nations; while the destruction of the existing relations between the two races, as advocated by our sectional enemies, would bring inevitable calamities upon both and desolation upon the fifteen slave-holding states.


Mississippi:

Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery-- the greatest material interest of the world. Its labor supplies the product which constitutes by far the largest and most important portions of commerce of the earth. These products are peculiar to the climate verging on the tropical regions, and by an imperious law of nature, none but the black race can bear exposure to the tropical sun. These products have become necessities of the world, and a blow at slavery is a blow at commerce and civilization. That blow has been long aimed at the institution, and was at the point of reaching its consummation. There was no choice left us but submission to the mandates of abolition, or a dissolution of the Union, whose principles had been subverted to work out our ruin.

Source: The Avalon Project : Confederate States of America (http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/csa/csapage.htm)

lwarmonger
25 Jan 08,, 23:55
Additionally, you had several Southern states censure South Carolina for attempting to claim the right of nullification, just as most Southern states had censured Kentucky and Virginia for suggesting nullifcation of the Alien and Sedition Acts. So, the "states rights" position proclaimed by Southern politicians at the time of the Civil War find their roots more in the convenience of the argument as a justification than in any deeply rooted tradition of Southern political philosophy.

Well sir, have political groups within the United States ever been completely cohesive?

I could make the exact same argument in the exact same way against the American Revolution... however that doesn't mean that it wasn't justified and a long time in coming (nor does it mean that there weren't significant political divisions within the colonies over revolution).

lwarmonger
26 Jan 08,, 00:02
A quick read of the actual documents of secession support the convenience of argument justification. States which seceded did so to preserve their rights to keep slaves. Anyone who then chose to join their state and ignore their oath to the Constitution chose to do so to support slavery. States' rights really means "States' rights to keep slaves."


Slavery was the specific issue... however it was on the way out anyways. In order to secure the European support necessary for their long term independence, the Confederates would have had to at least formally emancipate their slaves sooner or later.

And I would argue that there is no way that the South would have been able to mobilize the degree of support among its people that it did if it had presented the cause as a right to keep the slaves (just like the Union population would have dropped out of the war in short order if Lincoln has said that the main reason for fighting was to free the slaves). Lets face it, the vast majority of Southerners were fighting against a government that they thought no longer represented them... they didn't own slaves, nor were they dependent upon them... and while slavery was a big issue when it came to secession it wasn't the cause that the Southerners were fighting for.

Shek
26 Jan 08,, 01:57
Well sir, have political groups within the United States ever been completely cohesive?

I could make the exact same argument in the exact same way against the American Revolution... however that doesn't mean that it wasn't justified and a long time in coming (nor does it mean that there weren't significant political divisions within the colonies over revolution).

There's a difference between not being completely cohesive and publicly censuring your own over an attempt to exert "state's rights." If 1860 were today, 527 groups would run ads about Southern states flip-flopping on the issue.

Reference the American Revolution, the justification cited was a moral right to revolution based on the uninalienable rights of all men and a whole list of grievances against the crown. In contrast, Southern secession documents revolve almost entirely around the issue of slavery, which cannot be defended as a moral right for revolution. Sorry, but I don't buy the analogy.

lwarmonger
26 Jan 08,, 10:19
Reference the American Revolution, the justification cited was a moral right to revolution based on the uninalienable rights of all men and a whole list of grievances against the crown.

Sir, the taxes that the colonies paid was one of their chief grievances, and that with their tax burdens being substantially less than the average British citizen... As for the moral right to revolution based on "inalienable rights" the American citizen was actually the most free in the British empire (hard to control people across an ocean in the day of sail... very easy to control the population of the British Isles). And I'm sure all of the Tories would be very happy to talk about the "unalienable rights" given to them for staying loyal to Britain.



In contrast, Southern secession documents revolve almost entirely around the issue of slavery, which cannot be defended as a moral right for revolution. Sorry, but I don't buy the analogy.

The Confederate government would have lost quickly if it had tried to use the issue of slavery to mobilize the white males of the Confederacy (most of whom were poor). The Confederates were mostly fighting for their homes and their country... the same reason that most colonials were fighting Britain. However, most of what I've read seems to indicate that there was actually a much larger percentage of southerners in favor of secession than there were Americans in favor of revolution.

troung
27 Jan 08,, 01:21
Slavery was the specific issue... however it was on the way out anyways. In order to secure the European support necessary for their long term independence, the Confederates would have had to at least formally emancipate their slaves sooner or later.

They went to war for it - to keep it. Thus one can more than assume that they didn't believe slavery was on the way out.


The Confederate government would have lost quickly if it had tried to use the issue of slavery to mobilize the white males of the Confederacy (most of whom were poor). The Confederates were mostly fighting for their homes and their country... the same reason that most colonials were fighting Britain. However, most of what I've read seems to indicate that there was actually a much larger percentage of southerners in favor of secession than there were Americans in favor of revolution.

More of a violent attempt to keep their own position in society. The issue of their status in society, being a dirt poor white still meant one was better then a slave in the racist caste system - along with the lack of competition from freed blacks.

The fact that those same people happily went out of their way using violence against freed slaves doesn't bode well for some view of states rights outside of the states right to enslave (their own documents showed that was THE reason to succeed) and later states right to put blacks in an inferior social position. Not a second American Revolution but a bunch of racists fighting to keep slaves.

Of course once the cause for the war becomes something else other than slavery then the Confederacy can be painted in a good light - as something else other then a bunch of racists fighting for the "states right" to enslave and to maintain a racial caste system. The "Lost Cause" viewpoint and all.

========
Slavery In The Civil War Era (http://www.civilwarhome.com/slavery.htm)

That left only marginal land for the vast majority of white farmers. This problem was compounded by the dominance of the planters image as the social ideal. Alternative means of advancement were unavailable, so yeomen farmers aspired to become planters themselves. They used some of their land to grow food for their family's consumption and devoted the rest to cash crops like cotton. Their hope was to produce enough to save, buy a few slaves, produce yet more, and, ultimately, accumulate the wealth that would elevate them to planter status. For most, this was a futile dream, but they remained committed to it, thereby neglecting other possible avenues for economic advancement.


Slavery in the antebellum South, then, made a minority of white Southerners--owners of large slaveholdings--enormously wealthy. At the same time, it demeaned and exploited Southerners of African descent, left the majority of white Southerners impoverished and uneducated, and retarded the overall economic, cultural, and social growth of the region. Slavery was the institution by which the South defined itself when it chose to secede from the Union. But it was the existence of slavery, with its negative impact on politics, economics, and social relations, that fatally crippled the South in its bid for independence.

lwarmonger
27 Jan 08,, 01:43
They went to war for it - to keep it. Thus one can more than assume that they didn't believe slavery was on the way out.


Like I have said before, that may be what the landed elite who were the initiators behind secession were for, but you weren't going to mobilize all of the whites in the South around a civil war to maintain slavery, especially when the North wasn't even banning it yet.



More of a violent attempt to keep their own position in society. The issue of their status in society, being a dirt poor white still meant one was better then a slave in the racist caste system - along with the lack of competition from freed blacks.

Not the main reason most of them were fighting. The notion that blacks could be equal to whites was outside the mental horizon of whites in the South, and most whites in the North too. Maine was fighting to free the slaves, the other Union states were fighting to preserve the Union. My grandmother has a series of letters from two branches of my family that fought for the north in the civil war to their families in Pennsylvania. They sometimes talk about preserving the union, but there was not a single mention of slavery. That is hardly uncommon in letters home at that time.



The fact that those same people happily went out of their way using violence against freed slaves doesn't bode well for some view of states rights outside of the states right to enslave (their own documents showed that was THE reason to succeed) and later states right to put blacks in an inferior social position. Not a second American Revolution but a bunch of racists fighting to keep slaves.

Nothing is every that simple, and to think of it as being so is not going to get you a clear picture of why things happened in any time period.



Of course once the cause for the war becomes something else other than slavery then the Confederacy can be painted in a good light - as something else other then a bunch of racists fighting for the "states right" to enslave and to maintain a racial caste system. The "Lost Cause" viewpoint and all.

An overwhelming number of voters in those states wanted to secede from the Union. In all probability a far larger proportion than chose to revolt against England. It is very easy (and common) to get emotional about the issue of slavery, but lets not let that cloud our common sense. Lincoln didn't even talk about freeing slaves until after Antietam, and even then it was only slaves in the secessionist states that he was talking about freeing (and even then only those that states that failed to return to the Union).

BudW
27 Jan 08,, 03:07
If slavery wasnt the key reason the south wanted to secede,are some of you saying the south would have secede even if Slavery were not a issue with the North?

Shek
27 Jan 08,, 03:23
If slavery wasnt the key reason the south wanted to secede,are some of you saying the south would have secede even if Slavery were not a issue with the North?

Lincoln didn't see a constitutional way (besides amendment) to end slavery where it already existed. He supported a compromise that would have introduced an amendment to explicity allow for slavery in the states where it already existed. The political fight was over the expansion of slavery into new territories. Abolitionists were in a very small minority at the start of the war.

BudW
27 Jan 08,, 03:29
Still the point being it was all about slavery, the south wanted to secede over a slavery issue, yes no?

BadKharma
27 Jan 08,, 04:25
Still the point being it was all about slavery, the south wanted to secede over a slavery issue, yes no?
It was not that simple. If you tour the southern states today you will hear the war had nothing to do with slavery but state rights.
If it was primarily about slavery why did Lincoln wait until Gettysburg to make the Emancipation Proclamation.

troung
27 Jan 08,, 05:08
It was not that simple. If you tour the southern states today you will hear the war had nothing to do with slavery but state rights.

The right of states to have slaves.

Shek
27 Jan 08,, 12:07
If it was primarily about slavery why did Lincoln wait until Gettysburg to make the Emancipation Proclamation.

Read the secession documents. Slavery. Slavery. Slavery. Slavery. The motivation of the common Southerner to join the fight may have been different, but the decision makers made it pretty clear what the issue was for the South: slavery.

dalem
27 Jan 08,, 21:05
Exactly. Without the institution of slavery there was no reason for the Confederacy to exist. In every other way the members were following the same rules and restrictions as the Union.

-dale

lwarmonger
27 Jan 08,, 23:46
Exactly. Without the institution of slavery there was no reason for the Confederacy to exist. In every other way the members were following the same rules and restrictions as the Union.

-dale

The vast majority of confederates felt different enough from the rest of the Union to support making their own country.

Many nations have been founded on less.

BadKharma
27 Jan 08,, 23:59
Exactly. Without the institution of slavery there was no reason for the Confederacy to exist. In every other way the members were following the same rules and restrictions as the Union.

-dale

I realize the South's economy based upon cotton and tobacco depended during that time frame upon slavery in order to be productive. However the vast majority of the southern population were not plantation owners and didn't keep slaves. So what was their motivation? States rights secondary to losing slavery mandated by the federal government? Or was there more to it. I grew up in the Midwest (Iron Brigade Area) so the Civil War was not fought over on a regular basis. When I became a Paramedic for Charlotte NC I could not believe the number of people that were re-fighting the Civil War on a daily basis. That is where I received the answer it was not about slavery but about state rights. Unfortunately I never could get anyone to elaborate more upon that.

Shek
28 Jan 08,, 02:39
When I became a Paramedic for Charlotte NC I could not believe the number of people that were re-fighting the Civil War on a daily basis. That is where I received the answer it was not about slavery but about state rights. Unfortunately I never could get anyone to elaborate more upon that.

Maybe because other than a minute mention of economics in Georgia's secession documents, slavery issues are the only grievances mentioned in their secession documents.

Albany Rifles
28 Jan 08,, 20:25
It was not that simple. If you tour the southern states today you will hear the war had nothing to do with slavery but state rights.
If it was primarily about slavery why did Lincoln wait until Gettysburg to make the Emancipation Proclamation.

He didn't.

Lincoln issued the Emmancipation Proclamation after the Battle of Antietam, almost 9 months earlier.

It went into effect on 1 JAN 63, six months before Gettysburg.

There was widespread dissent within the union ranks at first over it. Many soldiers stating they had enlisted to preserve the Union, not end Slavery.

Emancipation Proclamation - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emancipation_Proclamation)

Bluesman
29 Jan 08,, 03:38
Lincoln issued the Emmancipation Proclamation after the Battle of Antietam, almost 9 months earlier.

It went into effect on 1 JAN 63, six months before Gettysburg.

And to be exactly accurate, it had no effect on the slaves that were under Union control. Ironic, isn't it? I believe that DELAWARE - loyal, never-seceded, troops levied to subdue the South - was technically the last state to abolish slavery.

Comes right back to states' rights, at least on some level.

Bluesman
29 Jan 08,, 03:40
And now, we're WAY off the reservation.:))

But last bite at the apple: can one be in violation of one's oath of office if one RESIGNS that office BEFORE committing any offence against that oath? Was Robert E. Lee still bound by the obligations of an oath of office that he no longer held? Don't think so.

NOT A TRAITOR.

Albany Rifles
29 Jan 08,, 14:54
And now, we're WAY off the reservation.:))

But last bite at the apple: can one be in violation of one's oath of office if one RESIGNS that office BEFORE committing any offence against that oath? Was Robert E. Lee still bound by the obligations of an oath of office that he no longer held? Don't think so.

NOT A TRAITOR.

Since I took that oath myself my feeling is it is for life. An oath is not something one casts aside.



It was within Lee's rights as a citizen to do what he did but he also would have ot face the consequences of that act...just like all other Federal officials who served the Confederacy. That they did not get tried for treason does not make their actiosn any less treasonous.

Shek
29 Jan 08,, 15:39
And to be exactly accurate, it had no effect on the slaves that were under Union control. Ironic, isn't it? I believe that DELAWARE - loyal, never-seceded, troops levied to subdue the South - was technically the last state to abolish slavery.

Comes right back to states' rights, at least on some level.

So a document effective 1 January 1863 is justification for actions in 1860 and 1861? It doesn't follow :confused: